Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Bit of History And Then I Rant About the Bill of Rights

From Wikipedia's June 22 page. I found the following interesting.

June 22:
1812 - Napoleon declares war on Russia and invades.

June 22:
1815 - Second abdication of Napoleon.

Apparently the invasion of Russia was not one of his better ideas, but it does have a great soundtrack.

June 22:
1941 - Germany invades the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa, one of the most dramatic turning points of World War II.

Has Hitler never seen The Princess Bride?

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia."

On the anniversary of Napoleon's invasion!

Yes, Hitler died in 1945 and the movie came out in 1987, 14 years after the book, but Hitler was into all of that predestination, divination, Nostradamus stupidity. Therefore, he should have known. :-)

June 22:
1942 - Erwin Rommel is promoted to Field Marshal after the capture of Tobruk.

So, even the blind nut occasionally makes a good move. Fortunately, he did not do this too often. Rommel was the one guy who might have stopped, or slowed Patton, but Hitler prevented this last real chance he had at survival because of his superior intellect. And people still worship this poster child for destruction - his self destruction not coming soon enough.

June 22:
1969 - The Cuyahoga River catches fire, which triggered a crack-down on pollution in the river.

It looks like William Goldman is going to be supplying my quotes today. "Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch? "

When you are dumping your garbage just outside your door you don't notice it, maybe because the air is too thick with smoke, you might have a problem. When your garbage catches fire and it is not in an incinerator, you might have a problem. It's this kind of idiotic management of waste that gives global warming acolytes ammunition.

But the earliest event is probably the most significant.

June 22:
1633 - The Holy Office in Rome forces Galileo Galilei to recant his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe.

Galileo is supposed to have said, under his breath, "Eppur si muove!"

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

This has been translated as, "And yet it does move!" Not a translation that works for me. The translation that has so much more going for it is:

"Still, it moves."

A physics pun from one of the giants of physics. Something that provides a visual concept, rather than just a statement. If there is any truth to the legend of his statement, then "Still, it moves," is what I would expect from Galileo. Not even an exclamation mark needed on the end.

Still - The earth/church is still, stationary, unmoving, calm, free from discord, unchanging, silence.

It moves - The earth does move, tradition cannot halt progress, minds continue to explore new ideas, the attempts to cover up knowledge will fail.

This is not isolated to Catholicism, or religion, or science. This is about what makes the US Constitution such a great document. The respect for ideas. You may disagree with me, but you may not silence me. I may disagree with you, but I may not silence you. Truth does not come about with censorship.

Still, we give up this right, little by little - fighting words (as if we are animals and incapable of restraint), hate speech (as if someone's feelings should be more protected than speech), the expansion of copyright limitation (something to appease the Disney corporation, one founded on the production of modified public domain material), and the inevitable return of attempts to prevent flag burning (often by the very religious creating a modern golden calf in the flag).

Preventing flag burning is not the answer. Preventing the continual erosion of protected speech is far more important. Silencing Galileo did nothing to prevent his ideas from getting out. Cover ups do not work. Stifling flag burners does nothing to stop their access to other forms of expression, but does give them something to speak about.

Secrecy is another area of concern. When it is exaggerated, the attempts to make everything secret end up decreasing the protection of legitimate secrets. More is better sounds good to a lot of people, just not to a lot of smart people.

Why are we surprised at the continual narrowing of the scope of other rights protected by the Bill of Rights?

Protecting my speech means I need to protect the right of someone else to do the same, as unpleasant as I may find that expression. When we place limitations on this right, just to make ourselves feel better, to be less offended, we give up too much of our own right. The Bill of Rights is not a feel good document. It is an uncomfortable compromise that helps all of us in the long run. It helps protect us from those who would lie to us to lead us to further restrictions on our rights.


No comments: